Some posts are difficult to write. A few make the tears come to my eyes as the words come to my fingers. But in every dark day, there are moments of joy, and I choose to hang on to those.
My father and I visited the Santa Monica Pier in August. It was the first time that I had ever been. We had been down in California visiting my Uncle Richard, and one evening, Richard declared that I wasn’t having enough fun on the trip. He in no uncertain terms told us that we should do some sightseeing that evening – I guess when you are the older brother, you get to make demands like that, even when your younger brother is old enough to have grandchildren.
Richard sent us on our way with vague instructions about a burger joint on the Santa Monica Pier that had the best burgers in the area. We will never know if we found the right one, but we each had a fabulous burger at PierBurger, with a homemade beef patty, fries and delicious iced tea. My dad had a yummy chocolate ice cream cone as a dessert treat.
After dinner, we strolled along the pier, seeing the sights. Carnival rides, neon lights, souvenir shops, and tons of people, both tourists and locals. We were lucky enough to be there on a beautiful night when there was a concert, and we were able to stop and listen to the music for a little while. I purchased a few Route 66 postcards for my collection. We watched a beautiful sunset, and shook off the stress of the last several days.
The rest of the trip was more somber. My uncle’s cancer had progressed significantly. We interacted with a seemingly endless parade of doctors, nurses, social workers, and home health care coordinators. We checked off the many details of hospice, home health care, home medical equipment and power of attorney. There were still some opportunities to talk quietly, and we treasured those. We collapsed into bed each evening, spent.
My uncle died a week after I flew home, with other family members by his side. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to visit and say my goodbyes, and hopefully make things a little easier for him at the end. And I will always fondly remember that evening I spent with my dad at the Pier – the most simple of respites when it was desperately needed. Rest in Peace Richard – you are missed.